- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Thursday, 19 November 2015 21:28
- Published: Tuesday, 15 February 2000 00:00
Joseph Kopcho Langdell
Ensign on 7 December 1941
Submitted by Joseph K. Langdell via Ted Langdell
Graduating from Boston University in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Mr. Langdell joined the Boston firm of Elliott Davis and Company, Certified Public Accountants as a Junior Accountant.
The clouds of war loomed ahead. At 26, he joined the V-7 Naval Reserve program, which offered a Commission to college graduates. After a 30-day cruise aboard the USS NEW YORK, as an apprentice seaman, he was appointed a Midshipmen at the US Naval Reserve's Midshipmen's School, Tower Hall, Northwestern University, Chicago. He was among the first one thousand officers of some 20,000 who were commissioned at Northwestern before the program ended in 1945.
Commissioned Ensign D-V(G), US Naval Reserve, on 14 March 1941, he was ordered to the USS ARIZONA, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In August of the same year, he was assigned Temporary Duty with the Fleet Camera Party. He was billeted on Ford Island, about 100 yards from Battleship Row.
On 7 December 1941, Mr. Langdell was suddenly awakened in Bachelor Officers Quarters by the sounds of the Japanese surprise attack. Rushing outside, he witnessed the ARIZONA sink in just nine minutes. 1,177 sailors and Marines lost their lives aboard the ship; 335 survived.
Ensign Langdell remained in Pearl Harbor until June of 1942, when he was ordered to the destroyer USS FRAIZER (DD 607), then under construction in San Francisco. During his brief time in San Francisco, Mr. Langdell married Elizabeth Hamilton McGauhy, whom he had met as a Midshipmen in Chicago.
Commissioned 30 July 1942, FRAIZER headed across the Pacific to Noumea, New Caledonia, and then north to Guadalcanal, where she escorted damaged ships away from the battle of Iron Bottom Bay. While blockading Japanese held Point Sirius, at Kiska, Alaska, the FRAIZER sank the Japanese submarine I-31. That happened 13 June 1943, when the FRAIZER had been in service almost a year.
Lieutenant Langdell reported to the Naval Amphibious Training Command in September 1943. This move took him from ocean to ocean, as the Training Command was headquartered at Solomon Island, Maryland. Once there, he discovered he was a Prospective Commanding Officer of a Landing Ship Tank (LST).
Following hernia surgery, Mr. Langdell was assigned to the First Naval District, Boston, for duty in the District Communications Office.
The Christmas season of '44 brought new orders: report to the Commander, Seventh Fleet for duty with the Advance Bases Division, which was building up for the invasion of Japan. Lt. Langdell then reported to the Commander, Phillipine Sea Frontier in Manila, where he organized recreation activities with the Welfare and Recreation Division until the War ended.
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